National League West

April 03, 2005|By Previews by South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Arizona Diamondbacks

Record, finish: 51-111, 5th.

Manager: Bob Melvin, 1st season with Diamondbacks, 3rd overall.

Payroll: $65 million.

Hot seat: Troy Glaus. After he got $45 million, his shoulder must hold up.

Best case: Rookie Koyie Hill makes a strong debut. ... Luis Gonzalez keeps his throwing elbow from barking and puts up more big numbers. ... Shawn Green excels in a more hitter-friendly park. ... Freed of the madness of the Bronx, Javier Vazquez pitches as he used to all those years in Montreal. ... Sinker pitcher Brandon Webb benefits from a tighter defense. ... No-name closer Greg Aquino fools 'em again.

Worst case: A massive winter overhaul doesn't appreciably improve the result but exacerbates the club's financial problems. ... Jose Cruz shows why the Devil Rays, of all teams, were so eager to give him away. ... Russ Ortiz leads the league in homers allowed.

LINEUP

2B Craig Counsell

SS Royce Clayton

LF Luis Gonzalez

3B Troy Glaus

RF Shawn Green

CF Jose Cruz

1B Chad Tracy

C Koyie Hill

ROTATION

RHP Javier Vazquez

RHP Russ Ortiz

LHP Shawn Estes

RHP Brandon Webb

LHP Brad Halsey

BULLPEN

RHP Greg Aquino

RHP Jose Valverde

LHP Randy Choate

Colorado Rockies

Record, finish: 68-94, 4th.

Manager: Clint Hurdle, 4th season with Rockies.

Payroll: $65 million.

Hot seat: Preston Wilson. Will his knee cooperate as he heads into his walk year?

Best case: Jeff Francis caps off a rapid rise with an award-caliber season. ... J.D. Closser hits and handles a staff better than the veteran he replaced, Charles Johnson. ... Todd Helton isn't the only regular to hit better than .277 on the road. ... Aaron Miles builds on a 153-hit rookie season. ... They surprise everybody by posting just their second winning record in eight years.

Worst case: No one emerges as the closer from an unimpressive bullpen group, and they again lead the league in blown saves. ... Helton's walk total rises for the fourth consecutive season as teams recognize the folly of challenging him in this lineup. ... The wheels come completely off, and they get threatened with banishment to the Pacific Coast League.

LINEUP

2B Aaron Miles

3B Garrett Atkins

1B Todd Helton

CF Preston Wilson

LF Matt Holliday

RF Dustan Mohr

SS Clint Barmes

C J.D. Closser

ROTATION

LHP Joe Kennedy

RHP Jason Jennings

RHP Shawn Chacon

RHP Jamey Wright

LHP Jeff Francis

BULLPEN

RHP Chin-hui Tsao

LHP Brian Fuentes

RHP Eddie Gaillard

Los Angeles Dodgers

Record, finish: 93-69, 1st.

Manager: Jim Tracy, 5th season with Dodgers.

Payroll: $94 million.

Hot seat: Hee Seop Choi. There's no safety net if he struggles again.

Best case: Jeff Kent elevates an average offense with his consistent hitting. ... Jose Valentin maintains his deceptively strong power numbers, proving the White Sox shouldn't have let him go. ... Jeff Weaver delivers another 25 quality starts. ... Pitcher Brad Penny eventually overcomes arm problems to become a 200-inning horse.

Worst case: J.D. Drew breaks down the way he has every other year besides 2004 in Atlanta and nobody fills the power void left by the departures of Adrian Beltre and Shawn Green. ... Poor production behind the plate has them lamenting the trade of Paul Lo Duca all year. ... Milton Bradley acts up again and makes his employers start to wonder whether he's worth the trouble.

LINEUP

SS Cesar Izturis

LF Jayson Werth

RF J.D. Drew

2B Jeff Kent

CF Milton Bradley

1B Hee Seop Choi

3B Jose Valentin

C Paul Bako

ROTATION

RHP Derek Lowe

LHP Odalis Perez

RHP Jeff Weaver

RHP Elmer Dessens

RHP Scott Erickson

BULLPEN

RHP Eric Gagne

RHP Yhency Brazoban

LHP Wilson Alvarez

San Diego Padres

Record, finish: 87-75, 3rd.

Manager: Bruce Bochy, 11th season with Padres.

Payroll: $65 million.

Hot seat: Ryan Klesko. Managed nine homers last year in Petco Park debut.

Best case: Center fielder Dave Roberts overcomes a lingering groin injury and his speed energizes the lineup. ... Khalil Greene builds on a strong rookie season, this time adding more offense to the mix. ... Sean Burroughs finally starts putting up impressive production numbers. ... 2004 major league ERA champion Jake Peavy builds on his breakthrough season. ... Woody Williams gives the rotation a veteran boost.

Worst case: Spacious Petco keeps messing with their minds and the team slips below .500 at home. ... Losses mount, and they consider trading Brian Giles before he reaches free agency. ... Trevor Hoffman starts to weaken just a bit after years of consistency. ... Too many holes extend playoff drought to seven years.

LINEUP

3B Sean Burroughs

2B Mark Loretta

RF Brian Giles

1B Phil Nevin

LF Ryan Klesko

SS Khalil Greene

CF Xavier Nady

C Ramon Hernandez

ROTATION

RHP Woody Williams

RHP Adam Eaton

RHP Jake Peavy

RHP Brian Lawrence

LHP Darrell May

BULLPEN

RHP Trevor Hoffman

RHP Akinori Otsuka

RHP Scott Linebrink

San Francisco Giants

Record, finish: 91-71, 2nd.

Manager: Felipe Alou, 3rd season with Giants, 13th overall.

Payroll: $81 million.

Hot seat: Barry Bonds. Spotlight follows him always and for varied reasons.

Best case: Omar Vizquel and Mike Matheny strengthen the club up the middle. ... Bonds returns earlier than expected from knee trouble. ... Moises Alou's clutch bat makes teams pay for pitching around Bonds. ... Armando Benitez shores up the bullpen, which was the team's biggest weakness last year. ... They roll back into the playoffs after a year's sabbatical.

Worst case: Jason Schmidt can't maintain his heavy workload and breaks down for any length of time. ... Oldest Opening Day lineup in nearly half a century can't overcome aches and pains. ... Time catches up with Bonds after two offseason knee surgeries. ... A so-so rotation beyond Schmidt pitches below even that.

LINEUP

2B Ray Durham

SS Omar Vizquel

1B J.T. Snow

LF Pedro Feliz

RF Moises Alou

3B Edgardo Alfonzo

CF Marquis Grissom

C Mike Matheny

ROTATION

RHP Jason Schmidt

LHP Kirk Rueter

RHP Brett Tomko

LHP Noah Lowry

RHP Jerome Williams

BULLPEN

RHP Armando Benitez

RHP Matt Herges

RHP Jim Brower

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